Ex-Fleet Fox Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty
Words: Drake Lelane
Welcome to the merry month of May, where promises of summer melt under clouds of impending rain. That’s Seattle, though… it’s enough to drive a Pacific Northwesterner south, like it did with J. Tillman, formerly the drummer for Fleet Foxes. Holed up in the sunnier environs of Laurel Canyon with “enough mushrooms to choke a horse,” Tillman took a different approach to songwriting, adopting some Harry Nilsson along other idioms previously made famous in Laurel Canyon. The result brought forth a new name (Father John Misty), attitude and sound which are on full display with this project’s debut out this week. Other notable new releases this week come from Lower Dens, Santigold, Ane Brun, Sea of Bees, Patrick Watson, Portland Cello Project, the Spinto Band and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Enjoy in moderation.
Playlist: New Releases 05.01.12: Spotify
Josh Tillman always seemed like he was on loan to Fleet Foxes, having a semi-successful run as a solo artist (7 albums as J. Tillman). So when he left the band, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to fans of Tillman. But leaving Seattle for California surprised many. “I got into my van with enough mushrooms to choke a horse and started driving down the coast with nowhere to go,” relayed Tillman to Sub Pop. A shack in Laurel Canyon is where he ended up, writing a novel and finding his voice as Father John Misty. “I never liked the name Joshua, I got tired of ‘J'” he explains at one point during Fear Fun closer “Every Man Needs a Companion,” and there’s plenty of lyrical clues scattered throughout the album that suggest much of Tillman’s transformation. The album starts with the other worldly Fleet Foxes sound, but gradually moves further and further away, incorporating the sarcastic wit of Harry Nilsson, along with much of the musical variance he liked to employ in his recordings. For fans of Tillman, the stylistic changes can come as a shock, and coupled with his new found lyrical boldness, at times it’s about as far from J. Tillman as you could go. “Oh pour me another drink. And punch me in the face. You can call me Nancy,” opens the excellent “Nancy From Now On,” while “I’m Writing a Novel” starts with “I ran down the road, pants down to my knees, screaming please come help me that Canadian shaman gave a little too much for me.” It’s an awful lot of fun, the kind you have with enough mushrooms to choke a horse. The hallucinogens are optional, but ignoring this release is not.
Lower Dens may operate within the same dream pop territory that Baltimore mates Beach House occupy, but with their sophomore debut, they’ve staked a new claim within the realm through an enticing mix of Krautrock and a heavy influence of the Eno/Bowie collaborations from the late 70s. Advance single “Brain” may have merely signaled their elevation, but most of Nootropics delivers on that song’s promise. “Brain” takes its Joy Division drive into “Stem,” “Propagation” provides a great change of pace that is nearly grinded down to a standstill with “Lion in Winter Pt. 1.” Thankfully, “Pt 2” makes the 4+ minutes of drone worth the trip. I’m less enamored with the nearly 13 minutes of meandering in the closer “In the End is the Beginning,” but your mileage may vary.
More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:
Santigold – Master of my Make-Believe [emusic]
Sea of Bees – The Money Store [InSound]
Ane Brun – It All Starts With One [Google Play] / “Do You Remember” (with First Aid Kit) [mp3]
The Lumineers – The Lumineers [emusic]
Patrick Watson – Adventures in Your Own Backyard [emusic]
The Spinto Band – Shy Pursuit [Google Play]
Rufus Wainwright – Out of the Game [emusic]
Portland Cello Project – Homage [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Aufheben [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream
Archie Powell & the Exports – Great Ideas in Action [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream
Reptar – Body Faucet [Google] / Free AOL Album Stream
Avengers Assemble: Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture [Google Play]